Seattle Arts Commission

About Us

The 16-member Seattle Arts Commission, citizen volunteers appointed by the mayor and City Council, supports the ARTS office. Commission members include artists, arts professionals and other citizens with diverse backgrounds and strong links to Seattle's arts community. The mayor appoints seven of the commissioners; the City Council appoints seven, and a 15th member is selected by those 14. An additional commissioner is selected through the YMCA's "Get Engaged" program.

Mission

The Seattle Arts Commission supports the City by advocating for arts policy, creating access for equitable participation in the arts, and fostering enriching arts engagement for all residents.

Commitment to Racial Equity

The Seattle Arts Commission emphatically shares the Office of Arts & Culture's Commitment to Racial Equity. As an advisory body grounded in our common pledge to fostering racial and social justice, we leverage our collective strength and breadth of knowledge to advocate for racial equity in arts policy, programming and funding. We do this work by centering communities of color in our united effort with the City to help build a just and liberated society for all.

Meetings

The Seattle Arts Commission remotely meets on the second Tuesdays of every month at 4pm, unless otherwise noted. Please refer to the City of Seattle Boards & Commissions Calendar for further information.

Contact the Commission

seattle.artscommission@seattle.gov

Vivian Hua

Vivian Hua

Co-Chair

Bio + -

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary arts publication REDEFINE, and co-chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences. In 2022, Vee released the short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multilingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project. They're presently a pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota. 

Vanessa Villalobos

Vanessa Villalobos

Co-Chair

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Vanessa Villalobos is a performing artist, choreographer, producer and non-profit consultant from Lima, Peru with Indigenous, African and Spanish ancestry. She presented hundreds of original works and danced with companies in New York, Seattle, and more. She has degrees in Theatre and Dance from the University of Washington and earned her MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University.  She co-founded creative company VANICH Multimedia (NY) and is the founder of BALORICO.dance (WA). She is a seasoned Teaching Artist having worked in many public and private schools in Seattle and New York. Trained in contemporary, ballet, jazz and Ballroom Theatre Arts, she is a certified American Ballroom Rhythm & Smooth instructor. Film credits include MadHot Ballroom and Walt Disney's Enchanted where she was a principal dancer. Her dedication to racial equity is expressed through her community work with 501Commons, the Covid-19 Response Alliance, La Sala, the Dance Educators Association of Washington and Seattle University's Center for the Study of Justice in Society. Vanessa's cross-industry expertise has brought forth opportunities to help influence funding decisions on behalf of the Washington State Arts Commission, 4 Culture and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

Rick Araluce

Rick Araluce

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Born in 1960, Rick Araluce has been a life long artist. At an early age Mr. Araluce began creating drawings, paintings, hand-fashioned objects, miniature scenarios, plastic models-creations depicting whatever piqued his interest at the time. He put his efforts into being a painter originally, though began to create and evolve his artwork towards a more sculptural realm, and in the 1990s began making detailed miniatures a primary focus of his work. This he continues to this day. Along the way, Araluce began to work in a larger form, ultimately creating complex immersive installations which incorporated multiple media, including lighting, sound, motion, and computer automation. These have been some of Mr. Araluce's most noteworthy endeavors. He has among other artistic pursuits created book and album illustration, art-directed and created work for a number of animated music videos, and has had his artwork featured in a handful of commercial films. For 20 years, Araluce was a Lead Scenic Artist with Seattle Opera, until the Opera's closure of its scene shop, though he continues this work as a Master Scenic Artist employed by Arts Tech Group, a scenery and event fabrication company where he oversees and runs multiple facets of the artistic side of production. He is essentially self-taught, having chosen to forgo university and art school. Nonetheless, Mr. Araluce has secured some significant achievements, including a Pollock/Krasner in 2009, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Award in 2010 and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. As an individual coming from a low-resource background, Mr. Araluce has acquired a degree of understanding and empathy for the challenges of those coming from less privileged and non-traditional backgrounds who have chosen the artist's path. 

Ebony Arunga Headshot

Ebony Arunga

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Ebony Arunga is an arts manager, advocate, entrepreneur and mother of three children. She was born in Kisumu, Kenya and raised in the historically Black Central District of Seattle, Washington. In 2008 she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Theatre, emphasizing on Stage Management. As part of a multi-faceted artistic family Ebony has managed artists, projects and events both nationally and internationally.

Ebony’s presence in the Seattle arts scene grew prevalent through her work as an event producer at the legendary Faire Gallery Cafe. Carrying on the legacy of her mother, Marcia Tate Arunga, Ebony and her sister Nia re-launched Seaweed International in 2017, a Black owned business specializing in jewelry imported from Kenya with the mission to provoke a new consciousness in social justice and beauty. In 2020, she teamed up with Ijeoma Oluo, Gabriel Teodros and LANGSTON to manage the Seattle Artist Relief Fund (SARF), the largest COVID-19 relief effort geared towards directly supporting artists in Washington State. In 2021 she joined The Cultural Space Agency as the Interim Community Liaison. Ebony serves on the Seattle Arts Commission (SAC), co-chairs the Facilities and Equitable Development committee
(FED), which is a subcommittee of the SAC, she is also the Board President of LANGSTON Seattle.

Jessica Caudle Headshot

Jessica Caudle

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Jessica Caudle (she/they) firmly believes in the power of arts and culture to transform and uplift community. As a student she practiced music, theater, & visual arts, and has volunteered with various arts and culture organizations. As a recent-ish transplant from North Carolina, Jessica is excited for this opportunity to directly engage with the City of Seattle and the various arts communities in the area. Jessica graduated from the University of Washington's Masters of Social Work program in 2021 and has seen first hand how transformational the arts can be in personal healing and growth.

 

Kayla DeMonte

Kayla DeMonte

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Kayla DeMonte is the Managing Director at Citizen University, a Seattle-based non-profit working to build a culture of powerful, responsible citizenship across the US. Prior to this role, she was Director of Programs & Partnerships at the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and began her career at One Reel, where she managed festival sponsorships, partnerships, and special projects for Bumbershoot and the Family 4th. In addition to her years on staff at One Reel, Kayla has done work with a variety of major festivals and events such as Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, and Northwest Folklife, and has been an event consultant for Seattle's Mayor’s Arts Awards for the past several years. Kayla has served in volunteer leadership roles with ArtsFund, The Vera Project, and Leadership Tomorrow and is a proud graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Sophia Fang headshot

Sophia Fang

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Sophia Fang is a queer, Chinese-American artist who builds vibrancy in Seattle and Pittsburgh. Blending vibrant swatches of color and complex details, her watercolors combine whimsy and community joy to celebrate small businesses, immigrant placemaking, and food diasporas.

Sophia is passionate about beautifying public spaces in her hometown and the Rust Belt. As an emerging artist, she has received public art commissions from the City of Redmond, City of Tukwila, City of Auburn, City of Shoreline, City of Edmonds, City of Pittsburgh, and Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation. Sophia was also an Artist-in-Residence at Inscape Arts, an Awesome Foundation grant winner, a Pittsburgh 30 Under 30, and the 2021 winner of the ATHENA Young Professional Award for leadership excellence in mentoring women and girls to succeed. Passionate about empowering local entrepreneurs, makers, and creators, Sophia is the Head of Marketing at Honeycomb Credit, a former Board Member at Prototype PGH, and a Venture For America alumni fellow.

Holly Jacobson

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"The arts reflect, provoke, question, and connect human beings and the human experience. For a just society to exist, we must ensure access to the arts are available, representative, and part of the thread that binds the fabric of our society together".  With a background in non-profit management, strategic planning and communications, Holly's professional background spans both for-and non-profit institutions. She has created strategic marketing and product solutions for Microsoft, The City of Seattle, The Seattle International Film Festival, and other entertainment and education institutions.  A passionate advocate for social justice, in 2003, Holly co-founded Voter Action, a national non-profit organization with the aim to secure accurate election systems, especially for underserved communities.  Voter Action led a national effort to develop reliable and fair voting practices which helped improve access and standards across the country. Having studied film at San Francisco State University, she has worked in film and is a strong believer in the power of story telling to elevate often unheard voices.  Since 2013, Holly has been the Executive Director of Path with Art, an organization on the forefront of connecting the arts to low income adults living in or recovering from trauma. She has been engaged with the steering committee of With One Voice, an organization supporting International Arts and Homelessness organizations and practitioners across the globe. 

Yeggy Michael

Yeggy Michael

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Yeggy is a Seattle visual artist whose public art murals and mosaics adorn parks, banks, residences, restaurants, and museums. His work has been widely exhibited throughout Africa, Europe and the United States. Yeggy's vision is to provoke questions about natural cycles, provide a sense of place and to reflect on the movement of time. Currently, Yeggy is the Art Program Director at DNDA, a nonprofit community organization. He is active in the communities organizing art programs and activities for Seattle youth.

James Miles

James Miles

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Fondly known as Fresh Professor, James Miles, worked as an artist and educator in New York City for 20 years prior to moving to Seattle in 2016. Before joining the faculty of Seattle University as Assistant Professor, James served as the Chief Executive Officer of MENTOR Washington and the Executive Director of Arts Corps, prior to that. Originally from Chicago, Miles has worked internationally as an artist and educator, who was inspired to foment change after seeing so many children that looked like him, get disregarded and treated like criminals by our educational systems.

In New York City, he was the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership, where he created the Fresh Education
program that used original hip hop music and theatre to boost academic success in middle school ELA and Social Studies classrooms. The arts infused and standards aligned Curriculum Guide that he designed has been used around the world, and has inspired many educators and adults to shift how they teach, work with, and speak to youth of all ages.

James has facilitated workshops and designed curriculum for the New Victory Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Disney
Theatrical Group, Village Theatre, Arts Impact, Denver Center, Impact Schools, and others. Previously a professor at NYU, James taught a myriad of classes, ranging from Acting and Directing to EdTech and Special Education. A graduate of Morehouse College and Brandeis University, James has presented at SXSW EDU, NYU’s IMPACT Festival, New York Creative Tech Week, EdTechXEurope, Google Educator Bootcamp, UAEM North America, UAEM Europe, National Guild, ITAC, and provided professional development to teachers across the world. His work has been featured by Pie News, New Profit, Complex Magazine, National Guild, Seattle Times, KOMO, NPR, CBS, NBC, US Department of Education, and ASCD.

James is a consultant with Continua Consulting, and is the co-founder of LeadersDontLead.com, a leadership coaching
agency, and is currently working on the 50th anniversary of Bumbershoot. James is a former accountant, model, and actor.
James is on the Board of the Frye Art Museum, MoPOP, on the Advisory Board for SXSW EDU, and is a mayoral appointee to the Seattle Arts Commission.

Chieko Phillips

Chieko Phillips

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Chieko Phillips is the Heritage Lead at 4Culture, where she manages the program that supports organizations and practitioners who preserve and share the history and material culture of King County, Washington. Previously the Director of BlackPast, an online resource for global African and African American history, she has also held positions at the Northwest African American Museum, the United Negro College Fund, and Photographic Center Northwest. Chieko currently serves on the boards of the Washington Museums Association and Association of King County Historical Organizations, both organizations that serve the cultural sectors in Washington and King County. A graduate of Davidson College, Chieko holds an BA in History and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Washington.

Mikhael Mei

Mikhael Mei Williams

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Born and raised in Seattle, Mikhael Mei Williams credits the city’s vibrant arts and cultural landscape as the impetus for her 20-year career promoting the arts across private, nonprofit, and public sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning, and Development where she studied abroad in Berlin, Germany exploring the impact arts and culture have on economic development and urban vitality.

Ms. Williams has dedicated her career to promoting arts and entertainment organizations that amplify the creative community, provide working artists with professional development opportunities, and support equitable growth of the creative economy. She is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Seattle Art Museum where she oversees all aspects of visitor experience, ticketing, customer service, marketing and communications, and public relations. She has previously held marketing leadership positions at Entercom Communications, Vulcan Arts + Entertainment, AEG Presents, and One Reel. She also worked for the City of Seattle in the Office of Film, Music + Special events where she was the strategic advisor on the City’s creative sector growth strategy and managed the Seattle Music Commission. She currently serves on the Seattle Arts Commission and board for PSAC (Puget Sound Attractions Counsel). Additionally, she has served on the Board of Directors for local nonprofit arts organizations One Reel and The Vera Project. 

In her free time, Ms. Williams enjoys spending as much time as possible with her teenage twin nieces; sharing her love of art and music with them to cultivate the next generation of art enthusiasts!  She also spends time volunteering for Food Lifeline—planting and harvesting crops and community distribution of food—to people facing hunger and food insecurity throughout Western Washington.

Danielle McClude Headshot

Danielle McClune

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Danielle (she/her) is a writer, researcher, and strategist currently working at Microsoft in sustainable product design. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire and an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University. Her graduate thesis focused on artists as laborers, creative placemaking, and the role of public policy in shaping social safety nets for artists, informed by collaborative experiences with Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture. She has presented her work to the Association of Arts Administration Educators and at the Seattle Film Summit as a Creative Economy Contest finalist, pitching a policy proposal of dedicated community land trusts for working artists. Danielle served as a grant panelist with the Washington State Arts Commission to allocate CARES grants deep in the crisis of 2020, as well as with the National Endowment of the Arts for their annual Dance grant cycle, with a renewed focus on equity and social justice in federal grantmaking. She has also served as District Advocate for Inspire Washington, advocating for the arts directly with state legislators. Her writing has been published in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (essays) and the South Seattle Emerald (poetry). She forever hails from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Leslie Anderson Headshot

Leslie Anderson

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Leslie Anderson is a Cuban American curator and museum administrator fostering cross-cultural conversations. Since 2019, she has been the Director of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs at the National Nordic Museum. She leads the Museum’s efforts to provide meaningful and inclusive educational experiences, oversees the care and interpretation of 80,000 objects, and chairs the DEAI Advisory Committee. At the NNM, Leslie has organized major loan exhibitions with the Finnish National Gallery and Sweden’s Nationalmuseum and spearheaded the virtualization of educational content, delivering programs to an audience across 70 countries and 6 continents. Over the course of her career, Leslie has curated 20+ exhibitions and acquired 1,000+ works of art for collections in her purview. She won the national Award for Excellence in Exhibitions from the Association of Art Museum Curators (2018) and the Utah Museums Association Award for Excellence in Exhibitions (2020). Leslie held appointments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Denmark, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and Utah Museum of Fine Arts. For six years, she taught art history courses at Brooklyn College, Parsons School of Design, and Indiana University’s Herron School of Art and Design. Leslie was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Copenhagen, an American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellow, and a Kress Interpretive Fellow. She has published on European and American art in numerous academic journals and recently served as a contributing author to the AAMC’s Best Practices Guide for Artist Demographic Data Coordination.

Leslie volunteers to support the arts and her alma mater. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the international journal Arts, the 4Culture Heritage Advisory Committee, the Seattle Gator Club Board, and the University of Florida Association of Hispanic Alumni Expansion Committee.

Ricky Graboski

Ricky Graboski

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Ricky Graboski’s personal and professional history are intertwined with America’s underground DIY scene. He currently serves as Executive Director of The Vera Project, an all-ages music venue, arts incubator, and community center in Seattle. Before Vera, Ricky coordinated grassroots initiatives in Detroit, worked in musician engagement in New York, and ran a national community organizing training center based in Houston. During that time, he also played in terrible punk bands and volunteered at influential DIY spaces Death by Audio and Shea Stadium in Brooklyn. At Vera, Ricky has dedicated his time to advocating for the DIY scene and community-centered cultural spaces, building all-ages programming at the intersection of art and activism.

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